Farm House Building Plans
An old fashioned but grand set of farm house building plans.
¶ The proportions of this house are good, and the form pleasing without being complicated; the impression produced on the observer by its general aspect is, that room, comfort, and convenience are within its walls, and that the dignity and hospitality of the gentleman farmer are manifested silently yet plainly by its external expression. It seems, however, in its architectural details to have borrowed somewhat from its city neighbor. We readily suspect that its owner has spent a portion of his life at something else than tilling the soil; that he has been a merchant or a physician, for we often hear of such changes of avocation in this country: at any rate, we must conclude that he is a farmer with some means, and a taste somewhat refined and cultivated by the company he has kept. Yet the design looks essentially like a country house - it could scarcely be recognized as anything else; the few ornaments that it wears cannot disguise its native plainness; it has been born and bred in the country, and all the city polish that it has received cannot conceal the palpable fact. This design might be built in any part of the Union, without reference to the use implied by the appellation of "farm house" which we have here given it, and it would always be ranked as a country house of considerable importance; yet there is nothing about it not strictly in accordance with the position in life of a farmer in independent circamstances.
¶ The ample veranda in front, picture 27, with its central feature, is worthy of notice; it seems to invite the passer-by to walk in and share the repose and comfort that exist within. From this veranda we enter the hall F, 8 by 33 feet, which contains the principal staircase, and affords communication with all the best rooms on this floor. A is the parlor, 33 by 16 feet, entered by folding doors, and a good example of a regular, well-proportioned room; when we say well-proportioned, we mean according to our ideas of interiors, rather than in conformity with the rules based on classical authority for the regulation of internal proportions. Of course much depends on the height of the story; in this case it is twelve feet. B, 14 by 16 feet, is a library or living room, or both, as the requirements of the family may dictate.
¶ The chief attraction of this room is the octagonal bay, a very pleasant feature, whether contemplated from within or without. The dining room D is 16 by 18 feet, and on occasions of unusual festivity can be extended by throwing open the sliding doors into the room B. A nice closet to the dining room is seen at I, and another for the occasional stowing away of various articles of use or wear, such as will readily occur to the mind of any liver in the country. G is a passage from dining room to kitchen; and H a pantry, represented as shelved on both sides; from the passage G the private stairs extend to the second floor of the back building, which is on a level with the half-pace of main stairs; a passage from the landing of the former communicates with the latter, rendering all the bedrooms on the second floor easily accessible to servants, without using the exhibited flight of the main stairs. The room E, picture 27, is designed for a kitchen, and by its dimensions, 15 by 22 feet, it may be readily inferred that we have a partiality for those good, old-fashioned country kitchens that our ancestors delighted in. Beyond this is a one-story room N, 12 by 15 feet, intended for a multitude of uses which will not fail to suggest themselves to those acquainted with the requirements of farm life.
¶ On the second floor, the rooms A, B, C, D are fine, well-lighted and ventilated rooms, well provided with closets. The bathroom E may be reached from the half pace of main stairs, Or by steps from the bedroom D. F would be very suitable for a bedroom for such female assistants as are generally required about farm houses. G, accessible only by a small flight of stairs from the kitchen, may be occupied by a farm laborer; in most cases it is best to provide tenant houses for such assistants as are required on the farm, yet we not unfrequently find one or two, and sometimes more, favorites not only lodging under the same roof with the farmer, but living on such terms with him that a stranger might with difficulty recognize the superior.
¶ It is needless to say that a cellar under the whole of this house is a thing indispensable. Every farmer knows the value of space thus obtained, for bins, store rooms, etc.; these require more or less light and ventilation, according to their several uses. Good attic bedrooms are easily procured by a little additional cost of fitting up. A pediment corresponding to that in front is required on the rear, as well for head-room and light to the stairs as to balance the design more perfectly.
¶ The walls are intended to be of brick, and stuccoed. Bricks can be manufactured very readily, although much skill is required in the production of the fine pressed bricks exhibited in city fronts; a good quality of ordinary brick for walling may be made by common laborers with but very little aid or instruction from those accustomed to the business. There is therefore no reason why the farmer may not, by the employment of a little tact in the distribution of his farm-labor, manage to mould and burn a great quantity of bricks at such intervals as may occur in the operations of a single season without calling in much extra help. Such a mode of building greatly enhances the cheapness of his home; and although the bricks may not be of the smoothest kind, if properly burned they yet afford the substance for a permanent building; and as brick-color is never particularly desirable for a country home, it is at once in accordance with utility and good taste to coat the walls with good mortar, the surface of which can be rendered agreeable by any tint that the fancy of the proprietor or his architect may suggest. The window heads, verandas, and cornices may be of wood; indeed they are designed with especial reference to the use of that material in their construction.
¶ The bay window we would built of brick. The kitchen and veranda floors should be laid with narrow boards, and the latter saturated with oil. Hard, durable wood should be preferred for these exposed floors, not only on account of exposure to the weather as in the case of the verandas, but for the additional ease thus afforded in maintaining an appearance of cleanliness in the kitchen; this is also greatly enhanced by a careful selection of material, and strictly enforcing the directions of the architect, whose specifications so frequently declare that the floor must be "smoothed off when laid". Good straight-grained, well-seasoned white oak will as nearly answer the requirements above pointed out as any wood within our knowledge; but in making preparations for building it will be found best to avoid the cutting of young timber for the purpose; large old trees, when perfectly sound, and our forests abound with such, are decidedly preferable.
¶ To build this design in the manner here indicated, all the windows having exterior blinds, and rising sashes with weights, and the roof being slate, would cost in the neighborhood of $6000 (1861 prices). Many modifications might be made, however, that would considerably lessen the cost; for instance, to erect the entire structure of wood and cover it with shingles, the expenditure would probably not exceed $5000. Yet we cannot avoid expressing our preference for the brick walls. If the owner could find it convenient to make his bricks in the manner we have mentioned, it would be much to his interest, in view of the probable expense of future repairs required by the edifice, and the additional satisfaction yielded by the more permanent structure, to use them at the cost of present disadvantage.
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